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St. Ives Allotment Association is Fully Engaged in Water-Saving!

19th November 2021


Put in the spotlight in 2020 when it hosted the G7 Summit, the much-loved seaside resort of St. Ives is a sought-after holiday destination. It’s beautiful beaches, oldy-woldy streets and rich history make it a beautiful location.

But the way the town has grown and expanded has left very little to no room for private gardens. Like a complicated 3D jigsaw puzzle, buildings are crammed in on top of each other from the coastline into the surrounding hills. Not having a garden was something that Sam, who moved to the town 13 years ago, felt very keenly. A passionate gardener, he was saddened to find out that the town had no allotments nearby.

When Sam approached them at the time, the local Council made him a deal: if he could prove there was a demand for allotments, they would arrange their development.

Sam wasted no time and advertised in the local papers. The response left no questions about it – people living in St. Ives wanted a bit of outdoor space to call their own. The Council stuck to their promise and land was acquired in an area of outstanding natural beauty only a stone’s throw from town. Surrounded by rolling Cornish-green hills and with views out to Sea, the site won their hearts from the very beginning.

Over the years, the allotments have thrived, despite the challenges of their exposed hillside location which is no stranger to salty winds. The allotment goers come from a range of backgrounds and ages, and together have tilled and worked with the land to produce a great variety of crops. The demand has never lessened and there is now a substantial waiting list of eager would-be plot-holders.

There was just one addition that was urgently required. A toilet.

The Allotment Association were unsure how to proceed. On the one hand, a toilet was needed, but there is no connection to mains water or to sewage (pretty important for toilets!).

When the site was first developed, a borehole was created from which water is pumped and gravity-fed through the site to troughs where plot-holders fill their watering cans. This system means that they’re always conscious of the limited supply the borehole provides, especially in the summer when the groundwater starts to dry up.

To minimise the demand, they’ve worked hard to install rainwater harvesting systems around the site, and deliberately chosen not to install any taps.

Installing a flushing toilet would add unrealistic pressure to their supply and having nowhere for the waste products to go limited their options even more.

Eventually, research found them a solution. A self-contained compost toilet. Even better than being waterless and having no need of sewage connection, after a while, the waste produced can be used as fertiliser. Perfect!

The only thing now remaining was adequate funding.

Aware that the seasonal salaries in the area don’t necessarily match the cost of living, the St. Ives Allotment Association have been careful to keep the rents very low. Unfortunately, that means all their funding goes towards annual running costs, including a promised supply of compost for the plot-holders to use. This leaves them with very little to do anything else with – let alone install a toilet.

The prospect looked dim.

That was until Sam happened to come across our Water Saving Community Fund online. At first, he was unsure whether this project fit the criteria – he wouldn’t be reducing their water consumption in any way. But after he contacted our team, we assured him that he was saving water by installing facilities that would ordinarily use it but don’t.

The group’s consciousness of and proactive attitude towards water saving is really inspiring, and so of course we helped them out and covered the cost of purchase.

Sam got fellow plot-holders Corin and Tim to help him with the construction of it, and said, with a sly smile, “It went as easily as most flat-packed ventures go.” But, despite the hieroglyphic instructions, with a bit of teamwork and intuitive thinking, a day of building later and the allotments had a toilet. The team had to make some minor alterations, especially one memorable day when the wind threatened to take the roof off (luckily no one was inside at the time!). But all in all, they are very pleased with the new addition. No more ducking behind hedges for them!

Sam enthused about how it will change the way people can spend time at the allotments. They no longer have to plan their visit around their bladder! This will mean people can spend more time on their plots, getting to know people around them and enjoying the achievements that come with growing their own food.

In the grand scheme of things, a toilet is only a small change, but it’s clear that for the St. Ives Allotment Association it will mean big improvements to their community.

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Find out more about how you could save water at home by clicking here.